The summer just got better. The majority of adult Californians are at least partially vaccinated. Restaurants, gyms, night clubs and theme parks are prepping for our state's June 15 reopening. Al fresco dining could expand and takeout cocktails aren't going away yet.
How do you make the most of this (hopefully) post-pandemic summer? Stop trying to be your own bartender and pick up pre-made libations from your favorite bar or bottle shop. You can toss them in your picnic cooler, sip them at the Hollywood Bowl or enjoy them while you lounge poolside. You're in luck because we know where to find a few of L.A.'s best takeout cocktails. There. Your hot girl/boy/boi/gender non-conforming summer is sorted. The only thing we can't help you with? Making friends with someone who has a swimming pool. Salud!
[FYI: California law requires you to buy food when you're ordering takeout booze from restaurants and bars. So think about what you want to eat.]
Tonga Hut's Mojave Punch ($10)
Iconic North Hollywood tiki bar Tonga Hut was closed during most of 2021 but has added outdoor seating and is offering takeout cocktails. Bar Manager Marie King recommends the Mojave Punch. "Fruity yet refreshing," she says. "It's my original creation of light Puerto Rican rum, dark Jamaican rum, homemade hibiscus syrup, passion fruit, lime, orange and pineapple juices."
Melrose Umbrella Co.'s King Kamehameha ($17, two servings)
Hollywood tiki bar Lono remains temporarily closed but you can pick up its libations at sister bar Melrose Umbrella Co. The King Kamehameha is made with pineapple, passion fruit, aperitivo, lime, orange, honey and five different rums. Plus, it comes with orchids, mint sprigs and cocktail umbrellas to dress it up. You can buy Lono's Mai Tai or Zombie glass for an extra $12 or its tiki mug for $75.
Although it's called a pub, this Burbank watering hole makes excellent tiki classics such as Mai Tais and Zombies. The Pirate Punch, which was created for an elementary school benefit and named for the school's mascot, is made with white rum, apricot liqueur, grapefruit, lime, cinnamon syrup and absinthe.
Lost Cove's Macadamia Chi Chi ($25, 2-3 servings; $45, 6-7 servings)
If you're ordering Hawaiian barbecue platters from Lost Cove, which operates out of Bludso's BBQ on La Brea Ave., throw in a bottle of Macadamia Chi Chi (375 ml or 750 ml). "It's lighter than expected, sweet-forward with a decadent macadamia nut finish, all balanced with the bright citrus pop of fresh lemon," says bar manager Chad Austin. Lost Cove's to-go cocktails come with mini umbrellas, orchids and colorful straws. You can also buy tiki glassware, such as a ceramic parrot mug ($15).
The Mermaid's Drink Like a Fish ($13 or $40, four servings)
Made with Jamaican rum and white rum, the Drink Like a Fish might seem too potent for daytime but its heat is cut with bergamot (a flavor you may recognize from Earl Grey tea) and brightened with a lime cordial. When ordered for takeout, you get flowers and mint on the side.
Strong Water Anaheim's Blue Hawaii ($26, two servings; $100 half gallon)
This beautiful Anaheim tiki bar is a bit of a haul if you're coming from L.A. but its tropical drinks are worth the haul. Plus, nothing says "liquid vacation" like an eye-popping blue cocktail made with coconut fat-washed rum, vodka, blue curacao, falernum, sweet and sour and pineapple juice.
Vervet's Sundowner ($22, 4-pack)
The champagne vinegar in this strawberry soda cocktail, which is made from cold-pressed Oxnard strawberry juice, should hit just right for kombucha lovers. If that's not your thing, try Vervet's prickly pear vodka cocktail or its Americano variation with bianco vermouth and aperitivo liqueur.
Ventura Spirits' Angeleno Spritz ($20, 6-pack)
This canned spritz is SoCal's answer to the Aperol Spritz. It's brightened up with soda water and grapefruit and includes a California-style bitter liqueur that tastes of Valencia orange peels. Add a juicy grapefruit wedge and you're good to go. Cans are available in six-packs in stores such as K&L Wines.
Thunderbolt's Tropipop ($13)
During the pandemic, Thunderbolt in Angelino Heights raised the bar with its takeout cocktail program by offering a mix of inventive drinks including a bottled espresso sherry martini and a bagged, coconut-washed Old Fashioned. But the pina colada soda is definitely a warm-weather standout.
Livewire's Alley Cat Old Fashioned ($19.99)
Livewire founder Aaron Polsky recruited a bunch of top-shelf bartenders to create his line of canned drinks. This month, he debuted his first bottled cocktail: an Old Fashioned developed by barman and SoCal native Chris Patino. To summerize this mix of rye whiskey, California apple brandy and cherry bark-vanilla bitters, serve it on ice, top with champagne or soda and garnish with an orange wheel.
DRNXMYTH's Rum Punch ($11)
DRNXMYTH's ready-to-drink line boasts 18 cocktails created by SoCal bartenders including Jason Yu (Employees Only LA) and Adam Fournier (The Fellow). The popular Rum Punch, by bartender Bad Birdy, is tropical paradise in a bottle with its banana-infused white rum, pineapple, coconut syrup and lime.
Lanea's Canned Margaritas ($20, 4-pack; $58, 12-pack)
No one says you can only have one type of margarita. Lanea in Santa Monica offers four kinds that you can buy as a four-pack, 12-pack or sample pack. The selection includes a margarita, a spicy margarita, the Picante Coast Highway (passionfruit, ginger, habanero honey) and the SoCaliente Margarita (Thai chile, serrano, habanero honey, pineapple).
Gracias Madre's Purista ($20, two servings)
Gracias Madre has several canned cocktails including a Oaxacan Old Fashioned, a Paloma and a sangria. Depending on how thirsty you are, purchase one can (two servings, depending on the cocktail) or a four-pack. You can order the restaurant's signature margarita, the Purista, with tequila or mezcal in either classic or spicy. Can't make up your mind? Get a four-pack with two of each.
Madre's Smokey Margarita ($13)
For its smokey margarita, which has been on the menu since 2015, Madre makes its own liqueur from pasilla chiles. This to-go cocktail is available in sizes that serve anywhere from three to 15 people.
Guelaguetza's Pasion de Oaxaca ($14; $48 for 32 ounces)
Who would know better than Bricia Lopez, named L.A.'s official mezcalera by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2013, how to make delicious mezcal cocktails? This fruity concoction mixes mezcal, tequila, passion fruit, grapefruit juice and Tajin. For takeout, it's available in various sizes, from a single serving to a 32-ounce bottle.
HomeState's Margarita ($24, three servings; $75, half gallon)
If you need a bunch of margaritas in a pinch, HomeState sells them by the half-gallon (12 servings) at its Highland Park and West Adams locations. The margarita is a mix of tequila, Combier, limes, lemons and housemade citrus syrup.
Brooklyn Avenue Pizza Company's Evergreen Negroni ($20, two servings)
What's perfect with a mole pie? A summery watermelon cocktail. The Boyle Heights pizzeria's Evergreen Negroni, trades gin for blanco tequila and replaces Campari with bianco vermouth and Aperol.
This refreshing cocktail gives you pleasure and pain with quaffable pineapple and the heat of muddled jalapeno. The little French bulldog all over the can is owner Nic Adler's beloved pup, Charlie. The canned cocktail is available to go via delivery apps.
Big Bar's OBB ($25, two servings)
Having a pool party? This cocktail comes with a split of champagne and two "drinking buddies" (a cocktail garnish of a little guy wearing a speedo) to keep you company. You can add as much or as little bubbly as you want to the mix of Bolivian muscat brandy and passion fruit liqueur.
The Brig's Bantamweight ($13)
Venice's longtime neighborhood bar, the Brig, remodeled and recently reopened. It now has to-go cocktails, which you can order by phone or in-person. Created by Jared Meisler and Raul Yrastorza (of Marina del Rey restaurant Nueva), the cocktails are named after boxing terms. The Bantamweight is a passion fruit Aperol spritz that's perfect for afternoons lounging on the chaise.
Genever's New Bimini Place ($10 for one serving to $62 for six servings)
This sparkly gin cocktail, named after a street in Historic Filipinotown, is made using kumquats from chef Minh Phan of Phenakite (recently named L.A. Times' Restaurant of the Year). You'll need to plan ahead when ordering from Genever, placing your order on Tuesday for pickup on Friday or Saturday.
Super Summery Cocktails
Love watermelon Jolly Ranchers? This gin cocktail is for you. It's layered and complex in that Death & Co way but still feels innocent, and the hint of curry bitters brings the heat. The bar is no longer doing online pre-orders so you'll have to come in to request your takeout drinks, but it's still a great option when you're at the bar and want to bring home a new favorite.
Employees Only's Amelia ($16)
The Amelia will resonate with Cosmopolitan fans who want to step outside their tart, cranberry lane. The St. Germain elderflower liqueur rounds out the blackberries while the lemon and mint brighten this vodka drink, making it a verifiable patio pounder.
This gin gimlet variation is made with Lowboy's housemade hibiscus-lavender cordial. It tastes delicious when you drink it as-is and even better when you fizz it up with a splash of sparkling water.
The Arts District bar serves a variety of takeout drinks, from cocktails to kits to full bottles of liquor. Zero in on this eye-opening gin spritz made with rhubarb, fresh fennel and tonic.
When the pandemic struck, this Burbank pub made its immersive entertainment portable via puzzle boxes. It did the same for its drink offerings with cocktail kits and flights. Roguelike also sells cocktails to-go, such as the spa vibe-y Mandragora V made with gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber purée, agave and celery bitters.
Severance's Worker Bee ($14)
Severance is blossoming at its new spot in Palihotel Melrose. Now that it has expanded its beverage program to include cocktails, you have plenty of options, from Aperitif Afternoons to cocktail punch kits. Recently, the bar purchased a canning unit to supercharge its takeout cocktails situation. Of the offerings, the Worker Bee gin and honey cocktail tastes like a sunny day. Just a heads-up that sometimes the cocktails don't show up on the takeout ordering screen. That's based on time of day and how busy the restaurant is.
LOW ABV & ALCOHOL-FREE
This delightful canned aperitivo-style drink — made with grapefruit juice, rosemary simple syrup and sparkling water — doesn't have alcohol but it does contain 5 mg each of THC and CBD for a relaxing buzz. You can pick up a four-pack at a local dispensary.
Amass' Sun Sign hard seltzer ($21, 4-pack)
The hard seltzer market is hot and it goes well beyond Whiteclaw (for the kids these days) or Zima (remember that stuff?). L.A.-based botanic beverage brand Amass launched several of its own, all without artificial flavors or sweeteners. Of its offerings, the Sun Sign with 5% ABV, stands out as super light with mandarin and vanilla notes.
All Day Baby has plenty of delicious takeout cocktails, from a Dole Whip Slushie that Disney fans will love to a Ramos Gin Shake. It also has great virgin options including an ode to Disneyland's nonalcoholic Mint Julep made with lemonade, creme de menthe Syrup, lime juice, mint, lemon and cherry.